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Last modified: 2020-12-08 | Approximate reading time 8 mins
August 25th, 2011, we finally got the keys to our coveted condo. This condo is located in an old building in the Rosemont district (Montreal) and was built in 1926. It's a far cry from the modern condo developments where you can choose the finishes and that were built less than two years ago.
These old buildings still offer several advantages, including an architectural charm that is difficult to reproduce, as it is not necessarily profitable according to the real estate developers who currently dominate the market.
It was also one of the elements of this architectural design that first caught our attention: a gorgeous built-in glass cabinet. The wardrobe, the high ceilings, the wooden floors and the large windows were very convincing and we quickly decided we were going to like this place.
Being young and naive, we signed the papers and a few weeks later the apartment was ours!
A few images of our condo in 2012, with DIY decor
In the following years, we didn't have enough money to carry out any renovations. Therefore, we stuck to a few DIY projects (removing a wall, sticking floor tiles by hand, painting a mural, changing the door handles in the kitchen) to make this place to our liking.
With the help of a neighbour, we also replaced the countertop, as the people who had renovated the condo before we bought it had the odd idea of painting the tiles. Therefore, the surface was very hard to clean and quite worn out. For a few hundred dollars, we replaced the old tiles with new ones that are easier to clean.
Finally, about three years ago, we redid the floors in the kitchen and dining room.
Nowadays, we are about to renew our mortgage. Our financial situation is more stable and we can finally set aside funds to carry out a large-scale transformation project.
Contractors should start working in January, but to make sure things move along, we launched the process a few weeks ago.
Dear readers, we are going to carry on with this series throughout the work in order to share the different steps of the project, from start to finish. This first article sets the table and presents the first steps we have already taken to move the process forward.
When we bought this place, we were in our early twenties. Our lifestyle and financial situation were very different back then. We furnished and laid out the condo along the way, always on the lookout for affordable materials and decoratives accessories.
Almost ten years later, our lives have changed quite a bit. If everything goes well, we will soon have kids, so this home has to become much safer and more efficiently designed.
To achieve this, we are going to carry out a drastic transformation of most of the rooms in the condo. Here is a general view of the current room layout plan:
And here is a look at the plan created by the interior designer:
As you can see, there are important differences between the two layouts! Some rooms like the living room and the second bedroom are moved elsewhere, whilst others are made bigger. Such is the case with the bathroom, as the current layout is too small to host a washer/dryer.
We could live with a tiny European washing machine when we were young but with kids, a "normal" sized appliance will be necessary. We will recuperate the storage space that is located in the kitchen. In any case, this closet is not optimized at the moment and we mostly use it to store objects that are seldom used. It will be easy to move them elsewhere.
We will also make the small main bedroom much bigger by creating a double room with an opening towards the first room. This space will become a creative workshop that doubles as a walk-in closet. Right now, we are lacking in storage, so this room will be very useful, especially so we can finally put all our clothes in the same place! Right now, our clothing is stored in 4 different places, which is highly impractical on a daily basis.
A few examples of issues with the current layout (1- the small closets, 2- high storage that is not accessible, 3- not being able to have a dryer, 4- a few bumps in the wall)
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the work we are planning to carry out:
IN GENERAL (RENOS THAT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN MORE THAN ONE ROOM)
ROOM BY ROOM
New bedroom (kids)
A few finishing touches
We started talking about this project a few months ago. At first, we thought about buying a house instead of staying here. However, with the real estate market being how it is, buying a home in Montreal, especially in the Rosemont area, is not very accessible.
Knowing that children can very well spend their first years in an apartment, we decided to renew our mortgage here and to transform the rooms to better suit our needs.
Our renovation plan created with The Sims
Early on, we had fun creating plans using the game The Sims, in order to evaluate how doable our project was in terms of layout. Next, I headed to Pinterest to gather a few ideas.
If you would like to check out our ideas and inspirations, you can look at our Pinterest board that we have created. This board will evolve as we add new ideas and recommendations by the designer. Such a tool is meant to help us keep the furniture, colours and materials that we enjoy in the same place. It's very practical!
Next, we decided to hire an interior designer in order to benefit from the expertise of a person who is not in his first housing transformation project! As I said before, I plan to cover this topic in more depth in an article, but please know that we are very happy to have worked with her.
Without her, we would probably have wasted a lot of time and money in addition to following a plan that didn't make much sense. While taking into account our desires and preferences, she was able to create a plan that departed quite dramatically from our first ideas, but which was much more practical and enjoyable in the end.
A few images from our Pinterest account
Because I was so eager to launch the project, I started imagining the decor and wanting to buy certain objects and materials without waiting. I bought carpets, a duvet cover, storage boxes and other random knick-knacks for our decor.
I must admit that I may have done this a bit too quickly! In the meantime, we have changed the layout of the rooms and even the colours we have chosen for the decor. Some objects didn't match these new concepts at all, so I had to try to find a new place for them. It is now too late to send them back to the store where I bought them.
A word of advice: calm your enthusiasm when it comes to making purchases for a renovation project that will begin in a few months! Things have time to change, and you could waste money. Since large-scale renovations can get expensive, find ways to save where possible!
We've started meeting with contractors, so over the next few weeks, we will be able to compare the quotes we receive. The first meeting went very well. The contractor was friendly, open to our ideas and seemed experienced. In the upcoming weeks, we will meet with other contractors to compare quotes.
This is the end of our first article in a series that will have us sharing the steps of a renovation project. In the next article, we will talk about the role of an interior designer.
If you haven't read the other articles in this series, click here.
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